Three transportation design students at Lawrence Technological University are scholarship winners in the fourth annual Steel Wheel Design competition sponsored by the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Wheels Task Force and Michelin. SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).
The competition held on March 8 at LTU awarded scholarships for unique designs that communicate the “lightweighting” and styling benefits of steel wheels.
“This years’ student designers took steel to a new level, finding ways of building on the performance advantages of steel in a creative and imaginative way,” said Ron Krupitzer, vice president/automotive market for SMDI. “All the competitors did a wonderful job presenting and showcasing how steel can offer outstanding styling features, while offering the complete package of structural efficiency, safety, sustainability, and affordability.”
Students designed wheels that celebrate steel and communicate lightweighting and styling benefits for this year’s competition theme, “Hollywood Steel: A science fiction theme that is edgy, with an out-of-this-world feeling.”
Greg VanderVoord of Clarkson won the $1,500 first-place scholarship with his wheel design for an armored vehicle, Terradyne Gurkha. VanderVoord’s wheel features shape memory technology, which allows metal to deflect from its original form and quickly return back when heat is applied. The “tweel” concept helps minimize the risk of getting a flat tire by applying a flexible steel structure in place of rubber, creating a strong and uniquely styled wheel.
Peter Corey of San Antonio, Texas, won the $1,000 second-place scholarship with his wheel design for electric and hybrid vehicles, with the Tesla Motors Model L in mind. He turns the wheel into a musical instrument with a mellow resonating sound that changes with the speed of the vehicle. The music would help pedestrians hear the electric vehicle, which typically produces less sound than vehicles with internal combustion engines. The resonating steel has a warm sound that is unobtainable with other metals, and advanced steel technologies allow for a thin rim that fits well with the brake and rotor.
Michael Levich of Farmington Hills won the $500 third-place scholarship with his wheel design for a Ford Police Interceptor Sedan 3.5L EcoBoost V6, featuring parallel plate hydroforming to reduce thinning of material as would occur in a deep drawn stamping. The design, which uses two ultra-thin steel sheets that create a 3D shape, allows for two steel types and thicknesses: a thicker, more rigid steel to protect against lateral wear and tear; and a thinner layer for optimum hydroform profile, using less pressure and lower tooling costs.
The renderings and steel wheel features were judged by a panel of steel and automotive designers and engineers, and wheel manufacturers on the following criteria: material celebration; changing customer perception by communicating environmental benefits and performance; creativity and feasibility through a unique and innovative design that maintains functionality; and an executed design concept that complements the vehicle’s aesthetics.
AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 25 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 125 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI’s member companies represent over three quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.
SMDI grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction, and container markets, as well as for new growth opportunities in emerging steel markets. For more news or information, visit www.autosteel.org or follow www.twitter.com/smdisteel.